Friday, September 7, 2012
Long Term Effects
Cancer isn't a one and done disease, like a cold. it's treatment takes months, years even. And even then, cancer leaves it's effects.
Over 60% of childhood cancer survivors have moderate to severe late effects. These come from a variety sources, mostly chemotherapy, but also from radiation, surgury and the cancer itself. Of these long term effects, almost 2% are fatal.
Many different conditiions have been tied to childhood cancer treatments. Heart disease, athsma, diabetes, infertility and secondary tumors have all been linked to chemo and radiation treatments. Yes, that's right, cancer treatments carry an elevated risk of getting a second cancer.
Late effects also include neuropathy, which can limit survivors' day to day activities. Some survivors loose limbs as part of their battle, which although not the end of the world, can lead to bullying and other problems. Nearly 15% of survivors are limited in daily activies.
Some late effects are psychological. Almost 20% of survivors suffer some form of long term psychological distress, including anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress symptoms.
Now comes the worst effect: death. 20% of childhood cancer patients die within 5 years. That's 7 each day. When the statistic is adjusted to overall (longer than five years after diagnosis), only an estimated 62% survive their cancer. 2% of late effects from treatments are also deadly, with an additional 4% being permenately disabling.
Patients and survivors are not the only ones affected by cancer and it's effects. Siblings and parents are also deeply affected. Both show elevated risks for devolping psychological and emotional problems, especially anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress syptoms.
So, think of cancer not as short term, but as a life long battle and test, where the full effects may not be realized for decades after treatment.